Women Hunters/New Hunters Making Headlines
February 27, 2014
It’s hardly like news anymore, it seems, to see a (relatively) positive piece in a major news outlet about hunting. Between “locavores” and “hipsters”, or youngsters and women, there’s been a steady stream of press over the past couple of years that would suggest a swelling of the hunting community by a host of non-traditional participants.
For my own part, I haven’t had a whole lot to say about the “phenomenon”. On the one hand, I certainly do relish the thought that more new hunters means more political and economic clout for our community. Likewise, I am cheered by the fact that we’re seeing a largely positive spin on hunting. These new participants tend to bring with them a strong ethic with a practical perspective (healthy food and a renewed relationship with our role in nature) and this plays well with the non-hunting public. It’s no secret that the best way to counter the lies and myths of the anti-hunting propaganda machine is to get our real stories into the popular press… let non-hunters read about hunters who aren’t poachers or drunken oafs.
But there’s a flip side. Even as these bright-eyed neophytes come into the sport (and the press) with professions of high ethical ideals, the spotlight that follows them also shines into the darker corners, threatening to illuminate the reality that all hunters don’t hold to the same, high, ethical standards. That’s not to say that the “old guard” is a bunch of scofflaws or heartless killers, but it is fair to say that we’re not all in this for the same reasons… we don’t all eat what we kill, we don’t all agree on the concepts of “sportsmanship” or definitions of “fair chase”, and all of us don’t see the kill as some particularly sanctified event (sometimes it feels like a damned inconvenient part of the whole experience, to be honest).
It’s a weird sort of conflict, no matter how you think about it. All this time we’ve wanted positive press, and now there’s a chance that the lights might shine a little too brightly on the contrast between lofty, ethical ideals and a sometimes, harsh reality. How do we reconcile this… or do we even try?